Skip to main content

The Ancient Greek Novel

Module titleThe Ancient Greek Novel
Module codeCLA3259
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Daniel King ()

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Do you love tales of romance and adventure? Desperate and beautiful heroines, swashbuckling heroes, dastardly pirates, conniving femmes fatales – and goats? The ancient Greek novels offer it all: thrilling entertainment, hermeneutic challenge, titillation, redemption – and much more besides. Umberto Eco describes the novel as ‘a machine for generating interpretation’, and these texts speak deeply to us of human experience: of sexuality and gender, of the character and transformation, of identity, art, fiction and salvation. If you believe literature has something important to say to us – if you love getting lost in the world of interpretation – then this may be the module for you.

There are no formal prerequisites for this module, but imagination, intrepid curiosity and a commitment to the transformative power of fiction (and love) are a must.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim throughout is to examine fiction as a means for imaginative exploration of the human in their world, and of the ancient thought-world, and to examine the dialogue between fiction and its context. Questions which will preoccupy us throughout include: Who read ancient novels and why? What questions do these narratives raise about their contemporary world – and about our modern world today?

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of a wide range of ancient Greek novels, and evaluate and discuss their significance
  • 2. Identify and explain the various theoretical approaches to novels in the ancient world, and demonstrate awareness of the subject’s central themes and issues
  • 3. Demonstrate awareness of the extent to which interpretations of ancient novels are shaped by changing modern concerns
  • 4. Demonstrate a good knowledge of the history and variety of scholarship on ancient novels and an understanding of how this scholarship can inform your own interpretation of the texts

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Identify, appreciate and engage effectively with different theoretical approaches to ancient texts
  • 6. Demonstrate sophisticated critical and analytical skills which can be applied to the analysis of texts and fictional narratives from any culture
  • 7. Demonstrate appreciation of the issues involved in using ancient texts as historical source material and relate texts to their socio-historical context

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. Demonstrate advanced independent skills in research, critical analysis, and the presentation of findings
  • 9. Demonstrate an advanced ability to select and organise relevant material to produce a strong and coherent argument
  • 10. Demonstrate the ability to reflect on your own work, to respond constructively to feedback, and to implement suggestions and improve work on the basis of feedback

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

We will focus on a number of novelistic works, including, for example: Chariton’s Chaereas and Callirhoe, Longus’ Daphnis and Chloe and Achilles Tatius’ Leucippe and Clitophon, as well as a selection of fragmentary novelistic texts.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching221 x 2 hour seminar per week
Guided Independent Study128Private study


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay presentationStudents will prepare an essay-outline of 1000 words for discussion1-9Comments and feedback from lecturer and students.

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay 1004000 words1-10Written comments individual feedback from lecturer


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-10Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

  • B.P. Reardon (ed,), Collected ancient Greek novels (Berkeley, 1989/1992/2008).
  • T. Hägg, The Novel in Antiquity (Oxford, 1983).
  • N. Holzberg, The Ancient Novel: An Introduction (English tr., London and New York, 1995).
  • J.R. Morgan & R. Stoneman (edd.), Greek fiction: the Greek novel in context (London, 1994).
  • B.P. Reardon, The form of Greek romance (Princeton, 1991).
  • G. Schmeling (ed.), The novel in the ancient world (Leiden, 1996/2003).
  • S.A. Stephens & J. J. Winkler (edd.) Ancient Greek novels: the fragments (Princeton, 1995).
  • S. Swain (ed.), Oxford readings in the Greek novel (Oxford, 1999).
  • J. Tatum (ed.), The search for the ancient novel (Baltimore, 1994).
  • T. Whitmarsh (ed.), The Cambridge companion to the Greek and Roman novel (Cambridge, 2008).
  • T. Whitmarsh, Narrative and identity in the ancient Greek novel: returning romance (Cambridge, 2011).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Key words search

Ancient novel, fiction, narrative, Chariton, Longus, Achilles Tatius

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date

December 2013

Last revision date